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Building the Kiln

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Kiln Diagram Note, this is not even remotely to scale. Let's just say that drawing on the computer is not my forté. However, it does give an impression of the various parts of the kiln.

A view of the anagama site just before construction started.

The digging begins. Little did I realize at the time, that my entire summer would be devoted to digging. You see, the space I have for the kiln is flat. Anagama kilns are built on a slope. To get a slope, I had to dig one (a dirt pile would settle).

Here you can barely see Mt. Baker in the distance. In real life (or better pictures), it seems so large. At the kiln site, it hovers like a benevolent kiln god - it's depressing to see it minimized by this photo.

The first 18" was nice soft soil. From there down, the ground is hard packed clay ... very hard. I bent the blade end of that pick chopping into the ground.

Here, Shiori Noro, the translator of Furutani's book Anagama: Building Kilns and Firing, suffers for satisfying my curiosity.

The pit grows. This is all pick and shovel work.

Here you can see the drainage box. My neighbor came over with his excavator and dug the trench for the drain pipe. I later traded the plastic box you see in the picture, for one I poured from concrete. Had I been wise, I would have let my neighbor dig the rest of the pit with the excavator - it scooped a wheelbarrow load at a time. But I wasn't sure how big I wanted the pit to be so I didn't accept his offer. A couple weeks later, suffering during the hottest part of the summer, I went over to ask him about digging some more. Sadly, he had just left for a three week vacation - I ended up digging out the rest by hand.

We discovered a rock. And right next to it, was a rock that looked just like dirt. Except it wouldn't budge even with the pick. My solution? Here I am blasting the rock with a weed burner till it glows. I must say, I did love this part of the process.

Pouring water to shock it.

Chipping it away.

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